Judge Orders State of Idaho to Pay Nearly $250,000 Over ‘Ag-Gag’ Case

PETA and Others Prevail in Fight for Constitutional Rights

For Immediate Release:
May 19, 2016

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Boise, Idaho – District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill has granted a motion filed by PETA and a coalition of national nonprofits to award the groups $249,875.08 in attorneys’ fees from the state of Idaho. The order comes just months after the groups’ lawsuit succeeded in striking down Idaho’s controversial “ag-gag” law, which the court agreed violated the First and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution by criminalizing whistle-blowing investigations of the meat industry.

U.S. law gives successful plaintiffs the right to seek the costs that they incur in bringing a lawsuit in a case of violations of constitutional rights—and Judge Winmill awarded PETA and the other groups nearly every dollar requested.

“The American public has a right to know when the meat industry is breaking the law, and Idaho’s ‘ag-gag’ law was a blatant violation of free speech,” says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. “This ruling is a warning to other states that PETA will challenge ‘ag-gag’ laws, we will win, and it will be costly for the state.”

PETA eyewitness investigations have exposed rampant illegal cruelty to animals, including that workers kick pigs in the head, stomp on chickens and turkeys as well as throw them around like footballs, and smash piglets’ heads against concrete floors. These exposés have prompted numerous cruelty charges against abusive workers.

In addition to PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—plaintiffs in this case include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, the Center for Food Safety, Farm Sanctuary, River’s Wish Animal Sanctuary, Western Watersheds Project, Sandpoint Vegetarians, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment, Idaho Hispanic Caucus Institute for Research and Education, the political journal CounterPunch, Farm Forward, journalist Will Potter, Professor James McWilliams, investigator Monte Hickman, investigative journalist Blair Koch, and undercover investigations consultant Daniel Hauff. The plaintiffs are represented by in-house counsel, Public Justice, and the law firm of Maria E. Andrade.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind